Bethel New Life

Bethel New Life

4950 W. Thomas St. Chicago,


The riots of the late 1960s and early 1970s left the West Garfield Park community in shambles. Homeowners, landlords, banks, businesses and investors fled this West Side Chicago neighborhood. In their wake came poverty, unemployment, and despair.

But a small neighborhood church said no to despair, and yes to life. Bethel Lutheran Church members, spurred by their faith, decided to fight the poverty and hopelessness. In 1979, they invested their few dollars to buy a three-flat apartment building and fix it up. In doing so, they gave birth to Bethel New Life.

Once just a housing ministry, Bethel now supports a variety of community development and social service programs. From a mentoring program for youth to job training for the formerly incarcerated to living facilities for seniors, Bethel’s footprint on the West Side is vast. Over the last 32 years, Bethel’s journey has led to the creation of over 1,000 units of housing, 7,000 employed residents, and an array of community asset-building strategies.

Since 1979, Bethel has earned a national reputation for cutting edge initiatives and pioneering approaches that build on the people, physical assets, and faith base of the community. Bethel strives to turn problems into possibilities through community efforts that arise out of commitment to self help and self determination with community-based, value-centered, solution oriented initiatives.


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